British Columbia Flaggers Death Leads to Anger

A suspended sentence issued earlier this month to an elderly driver who killed a flagger in British Columbia three years ago has angered members of the province's traffic control community.
According to the CanadianOH&S News, Melle Pool, now 88, received a suspended sentence from a judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia in connection with the death of Terry Mitchell near the community of Fort Langley in February of 2008. Pool, who is legally blind and whose license had not been renewed since 2001 due to his poor eyesight, struck Mitchell with his pick-up truck on Feb. 25 of that year. (WCxKit)
As part of the sentence, the judge ordered Pool to perform 15 hours of community service, two years of probation and issued a 10-year driving ban.
"We don't fully understand how the judges make their decisions, but it was a shock to all of us that there was basically no real sentence imposed. Doing 15 hours of public service really devalued Terry's life in our eyes," says Terry Veer, roads and drainage manager for the Township of Langley, which had contacted local company Valley Traffic Systems Inc to perform traffic control.
"People were very upset here that it was treated so lightly," Veer added. "You'd think they'd be a little more inventive in terms of trying to deal with the restrictions rather than saying he's too old to go to jail," he charges.
While Veer suggests an "in-house restriction" such as a bracelet to monitor driving habits, Katherine Keras, owner of Pro-Safe Traffic Service in Surrey, BC, says that the sale of Pool's estate is another option.
On the day of the accident, a work crew was required to handle ditch clearing and two flaggers were resetting the work site up following a lunch break, according to Veer. Mitchell was standing at the far end of the curved road, talking via radio with the other out-of-sight flagger.
"Our understanding is he was on the radio talking to the other flag person, letting the other flag person know that he was ready and they could bring the machine back into the work zone," Veer says. "He had his paddle [stop or go sign] out while he was talking on the radio… the vehicle didn't see him and ran right over him."
Mitchell was airlifted off the site, but later died, according to Veer, adding that counselors were also brought in for workers.
Mitchell had worked on township projects for several years, Veer says. "He was one of the preferred flaggers. He took it very seriously."
Keras is concerned that "it may end up being the same outcome" for one of her employees who was also fatally struck by a vehicle last July.
At about 8:15 am on July 19, Donald Cain, 49, was directing traffic near Mission, BC when a Jeep made a sharp right turn and struck him. Cain, who was behind the fog line (the white painted line on the right side of the road), was dragged about six meters.
"He tried to turn and run, but it was just on him," Keras says of the vehicle. "He basically ran over him and didn't see him and kept driving until the other flagger stopped him."
That second flagger is still off work and she is undergoing counseling, Keras reports.
The driver of the Jeep, which was found to have "mechanical issues," has not yet been charged. (WCxKit)
If he is not charged, Keras says she will launch a private lawsuit.
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See for more information. or 860-553-6604.
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